Geographic Information Systems-Based Analysis of Aquaculture Ventures in Wisconsin
Brandt, Allen G.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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In the last several decades, longevity of aquaculture businesses has been sporadic throughout Wisconsin. Part of the problem centers on the inability to target ideal farm locations as well as ascertaining all the key factors in operating a profitable fish farm. An issue with the expansion of the aquaculture industry is the difficulty to conduct the needed analyses of the industry’s potential. The purpose of this study was to examine and evaluate areas around current fish farms in the state in an attempt at determining if certain characteristics of the landscape have an effect on the longevity of the fish farm operation. I evaluated a total of 314 fish farms along with 253 watersheds which contained fish farms. The landscape and site indicators evaluated included: slope, water quality (pH, alkalinity, hardness, and temperature), soil quality (pH and Ksat), land cover/use, production system used, and species of fish raised at the farm. The fish farms and watersheds were evaluated by creating a GIS model in ArcMap which used the aforementioned indicators to access their suitability. The water quality indicators of alkalinity and hardness were found to likely have the most influence on the overall longevity of fish farm operations within Wisconsin. The land cover/use indicators also were found to be influential to fish farm success, while soil indicators were found to have little influence on the success of a fish farm staying in operation. Predictive models were created by Koeller et al. (in progress) which sought to determine suitable locations for aquaculture operations in Wisconsin for either raceway or pond production systems. A summary review of the predictive model work by Koeller et al. (in progress) can be found in Appendix D. These models looked at several different water quality criteria (alkalinity, hardness, pH, iron, manganese, and chloride), soil characteristics (clay content, pH, organic matter, and permeability), and land cover/use. The model criteria were weighted based on their potential influence to the longevity of fish farms. The suitability locations for water quality, soil and land use characteristics were combined to show the areas within the state which were suitable for fish farm operations utilizing either raceway or pond production systems. The raceway site suitability model had 73.8% of the state found in unsuitable locations while the pond site suitability was unsuitable for 58.7% of the state. The suitability for raceway systems was highly affected by the water quality with 55.4% of the state being unsuitable while soil and land use were 39.5% unsuitable. Pond systems had 41.4% unsuitable location for water quality and 33% unsuitable land based on soil and land use.